India is a fertile breeding ground for self-styled godmen ranging from international fame Chandraswamy, Jagat gurus like Sankaracharya Sai Baba, Kalki, Premananda and umpteen other swamijis big and small. The whole band of these thugs thrive on the faith of the people in God, Religion and their superstitious beliefs in the efficacy of the magic powers of these frauds in gratifying their needs and desires.

One such godman was Premananda, a fugitive from Mattalai in Sri Lanka, who started his ashram in a rented building at Kirapatti near Trichy. At the beginning 10 to 20 devotees trickled in daily to participate in the pooja conducted by him. He struck his devotees with awe and wonder offering vibhuti (holy ash) from empty hands (the famous Puttabarti Sai Baba style) and belching out a lingam (Phallus) from his stomach once in a month before a large gathering. His fame spread far and wide. The willing victims increased in number. Money poured in unasked. Those in power granted all that he asked for to expand his ashram on a 150 acre land at Fathima Nagar near Trichy in exchange for his blessings and grace. He started an orphanage and a school for them. He built cottages for the stay of his disciples and devotees on the campus. Very important persons ranging from the then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu down to her close associates and the bureaucracy frequented his ashram to add glory and credibility to the godman.

A bolt from the blue came to the Swamiji in the form of one Suresh Kumari, an inmate of the ashram, who with Latha another inmate escaped from the ashram, came to Chennai and lodged a complaint against the godman with the backing of a woman’s organization. Consequently a raid was made in the ashram and many incriminating documents, photographs and letters were confiscated. It came to light that Premananda raped more than 20 girls in the ashram, besides having Divya, the head of the ashram as his paramour. He beguiled many a bigwig into the ashram, made them lured by the young girls hired for the purpose, and while they were in the act of love-making videographed and later blackmailed. To top them all he murdered one Ravi, an engineer, and buried him in the ashram lest the secret of the ashram should leak out.

The CBCID charge-sheeted the culprits and they were remanded in custody. The godman moved heaven and earth to come out on bail but no bail was granted. The trial took place for three long years. The most famous and costly lawyer of the country Ram Jethmalani was employed by the godman to plead for his innocence. It was proved beyond doubt by the DNA test conducted by the Indian scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology on the foetus of the nineteen year old girl Arul Jyoti and the blood sample of Swamiji that he raped her and made her pregnant.

Finally nemesis descended on Premananda in the judgment of the undaunted and upright Pudukottai District Sessions judge R. Bhanumathi who condemned him to life imprisonment with hefty fines.

However, the story is not to end here. There are many more Jagathgurus to be jailed, Sai Babas to be sentenced, Kalkis to be condemned and Bangarus to be banished. The public are to be on the alert not to fall victim to the gimmicks of the gurus, fallacy of the faith, rigmarole of religion, mumbo-jumbo of mantras and above all the governance of God over one and all.

This article was orignally appeared in The Modern Rationalist- September - 1997

Social Reformer- Rationalist
E.V.R. Periyar
Dr Abraham Kovoor